Last April, Gauhati High Court rescues 2 elephants that were seized where they had been illegally transported on commercial consideration from Arunachal Pradesh to Odisha through Assam.
Custody of the Assam forest and wildlife department
On August 25, Justice Rumi Kumari Phukan quashed an earlier order made by the additional sessions judge which had given the custody of the 2 elephants to the accused, Chow Sonjit Pomong.
Currently, the 2 elephants, Lakhi Prasad and Hari Prasad are under the custody of the Assam forest and wildlife department and are kept at Kaziranga National Park.
According to the Assam forest department, nearly 200 elephants from the region have been victims of illegal trade to different states.
Accused gives their statements
According to Pomong’s statements to Assam forest officials, he admits that a person called Barun Kumar Singh had transferred Rs 9 lakh for Lakhi Prasad and Rs 17 lakh for Hari Prasad to his bank account. He also states that Singh had approached him for the elephants and had also made preparations for the documents on his behalf.
He also states that the documentation and selling process started way back in 2017 when he met Singh in person, who used to provide money in cash to the family of Pomong’s late brother, Chow Moloy Pomong.
In his statements, he also recalls that Singh had informed them that the elephants will be used for religious purposes. However, the judge states that he didn’t receive any documents from any temple nor the religious organization to where the elephants will be transported.
Justice Phukan notes that it is apparent that the elephants have been transported on commercial consideration in violation of Section 43 of the Act.
The 2 elephants were transported via truck from Lathao in Namsai district of Arunachal Pradesh to one Rabindra Kumar Singh of Shastri Nagar of Semiliguda in Koraput district of Odisha. DoomDooma divisional forest officer in Assam’s Tinsukia district seized the vehicle, rescued the elephants, and truck drivers Meghan Kumar and Barun Kumar Singh were arrested.
Assam government challenges the revision court’s order
Promoting was seeking custody of the 2 elephants claiming that he is the owner however his pleas were rejected. He later approaches the revision court on June 24, which allows the revision and the elephants to be handed back to him in his custody.
Later, the Assam government challenged the revision court’s order in the high court because the elephants were illegally transported as there have been no valid documents for transportation of animals outside the state or the recipient’s agreement.
Moreover, there’s been no intimation from Arunachal authorities to Assam on the movement of the 2 elephants.